The days of awkward, bulky ice cream makers are long gone, and there are many sleek and easy-to-use models on the market. There are two types available – manual and electric, and the designs range from very basic to quite complex.
Despite the variations in design, all ice cream machines work on the same principle. A type of paddle – known as a ‘dasher’ fits inside a canister which holds the mixture. The dasher stirs the mixture whilst it freezes. This is to keep the mixture smooth, as if there was no air to keep it aerated, it would become rock-solid, and ice crystals would form, which would detract from the taste and appearance.
The canister which houses the dasher is itself located in another container, which is usually called the ‘freezer bowl’. The freezer bowl holds the freezing agent, which is often a chemical coolant that is sealed inside the containers walls, a mixture of ice and salt, or an electric refrigeration unit. The freezer bowl needs to be placed in your freezer for up to 48 hours before it is cold enough.
The type of maker you have purchased affects the way in which it is used. A manual one requires the user to turn the dasher themselves for at least 30 minutes, to make around five litres, whilst an electric machine can produce the same amount in less than half the amount of time. It will also help save yourself the physical labour, as an electric motor turns the dasher for you.
Electric makers are quicker and easier to use – you simply pour in your mixture, turn on the machine and wait 15-30 minutes. Of course, this extra technology means that the purchase price is higher, so you will have to weigh up how often you will use it and how much physical effort you are prepared to put in to using it, against the cost to buy the machine.
After the appropriate amount of time has elapsed, and it is smooth, chilled and creamy, it is usually ready to eat straight away.
Ice cream makers can be fun to use, can save you money on buying litre after litre from the shops, and will give you an end product that you will feel proud of. They allow you to use your imagination to create new and exciting flavours that you and your family will enjoy, and are a great addition to any kitchen.